Cosmicopia title

The History of Cosmic Ray Studies

1960 - 1969

Echo I
The first balloon-type satellite, Echo I, 30.5 m in diameter was launched by NASA.

Explorer VII detected solar flares that were causing "extremely severe" magnetic disturbance of the Earth's atmosphere. They were later analyzed as the greatest burst of solar radiation in the satellite's 13 months of operation.

A team lead by Bruce Cork at Berkeley, California announced the discovery of the antineutron

The first man, Russian astronaut Yuri Gargarin, went into space.

Scientists at the Volcano Ranch Array reported detection of a cosmic ray air shower with a measured energy of 1020 eV

NASA began funding of balloons, launching services, and related expenses in connection with high-altitude measurements of electron, low-energy proton, and alpha-particle spectrum of primary cosmic radiation to be conducted by the University of Chicago from Uranium City, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Herbert Bridge, with Bruno Rossi and the MIT team, obtained more detailed observations with an elaborate trap on NASA's Explorer X, a spacecraft designed to explore the nightside tail of the magnetosphere which was often immersed in the solar wind.

NASA announced that Explorer XII had successfully completed its first orbit, radioing data on magnetic fields and solar radiation from an apogee of nearly 54,000 miles and perigee within 170 miles of the Earth.

The Navy Skylark balloon began a coast-to-coast flight carrying University of Chicago cosmic ray experiment. It was launched at Brawley, Calif., and landed near Asheville, N.C., on November 21.

Mariner IIMariner II flew towards Venus, and not only detected a continuously flowing solar wind, but also observed in it fast and slow streams, approximately repeating at 27 day intervals, suggesting that their sources rotated with the Sun.

Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig proposed the existence of the quark

Antideuterons, nuclei of antimatter each composed of an antiproton and an antineutron, were produced by CERN and Brookhaven National Laboratory

Kenneth Greisen, Georgi Zatsepin, and Vadem Kuzmin calculated the so-called GZK cut-off, the theoretical upper limit on the energy in a cosmic ray from distant sources, due to its interaction with the cosmic microwave background radiation along the path

July 1969
Apollo 11 logoAn Apollo 11 experiment studied the elemental and isotopic composition of selected elements in the solar wind by measuring particles trapped on an exposed aluminum foil sheet on the moon. The experiment was deployed by the astronauts, and the foil was brought back with them to Earth for analysis. Since the moon has no magnetic field, is outside the influence of Earth's magnetic field, and has no atmosphere to interact with the solar wind, the foils received a constant bombardment of particles.

More about Apollo 11...

November 1969
Apollo 12 logoApollo 12 carried a solar wind spectrometer package which was left on the lunar surface. The instrument was used to observe the directional intensities of the electron and positive ion components of the solar wind and magnetotail plasma that strike the surface of the moon.

More about Apollo 12...

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TRACE sun mosaic Supernova 1006 (ASCA) 30
Doradus ACE
spacecraft TRACE solar flare IMAGE magnetosphere
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A service of the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA's GSFC

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Curator: Dr Eric R. Christian, NASA
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This file was last modified: January 11, 2006